Markets Drop on Global Growth Worries Weekly Update – July 27, 2015

Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of

Stocks were unable to maintain the momentum and gave up ground in another roller coaster week. Though earnings week marched onward, investors seemed more concerned about global growth and falling commodity prices. For the week, the S&P 500 fell 2.20%, the Dow dropped 2.85%, and the NASDAQ lost 2.31%.[i]

Falling commodity prices contributed to a lot of last week’s selloff as investors worried that plummeting gold, copper, and silver prices meant slowing global economic demand. Commodity prices were hit hard by new data out of China that shows manufacturing activity is at a 15-month low. The Asian giant is the world’s largest consumer of industrial metals, and commodity traders worry that falling demand could lead to a glut in metal supplies.[ii]

Are fears about China overblown? Possibly. Between the recent stock selloff in China and fresh concerns about a hard landing for the Chinese economy, it might seem that the global bull market might be ending. However, let’s take a step back and take a look at the big picture. While the Chinese economy is the second largest in the world and could certainly disrupt global growth, the size (and structure) of its stock market means that volatility there isn’t likely to affect U.S. equities. In fact, Chinese stocks had already experienced two bear markets since 2009 – neither of which seriously affected our domestic bull market. China’s central bank is also taking an active role in boosting economic growth.[iii] All that being said, the past can’t predict the future, and we’re keeping a close eye on what’s happening overseas. While we do see some headwinds and potential threats on the horizon, we still believe in a globally diversified portfolio strategy.

On the domestic front, earnings season continued last week and the picture thus far is uninspiring. As of July 22nd, we have gotten results from 103 S&P 500 members and total earnings are up just 3.0% on 1.2% higher revenues than the same period last year. Fortunately, not everything is bleak. Multiple sectors have seen success stories, and overall earnings are being dragged down by the beleaguered Energy sector.[iv] Are these results unexpected? Not at all. Much of the weakness was anticipated, and analysts are hopeful that growth will pick up in 2016.[v] However, the tepid earnings picture leaves many investors wondering if the Federal Reserve will see enough growth this year to raise rates.

Attention will turn to the Fed’s Open Market Committee when it meets next week, and though we don’t expect any decisions about interest rates to be made, we hope that the Fed will give us some insight into what they think about recent global growth worries. Earnings season will continue, and we’ll also get another look at second quarter economic growth, which is expected to rise slightly.[vi]


Monday: Durable Goods Orders, Dallas Fed Mfg. Survey

Tuesday: S&P Case-Shiller HPI, Consumer Confidence

Wednesday: Pending Home Sales Index, EIA Petroleum Status Report, FOMC Meeting Announcement

Thursday: GDP, Jobless Claims

Friday: Employment Cost Index, Chicago PMI, Consumer Sentiment



New home sales drop in June. Sales of newly built homes unexpectedly fell last month to the lowest level in seven months. Since data last week showed that new permits are up, analysts hope the setback is temporary.[vii]

Existing home sales skyrocket in June. Resales soared last month on pent-up demand to their highest level in nearly 8-1/2 years. Analysts hope that the housing market will keep its momentum ahead of possible interest rate increases.[viii]

Jobless claims drop to lowest level since 1973. The number of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits plummeted last week to a multi-decade low, suggesting that hiring remains solid despite summer volatility.[ix]

Greek cash limits unlikely to go away soon. Greek banks will likely maintain cash withdrawal limits (currently about $460 per week) until fresh money arrives from Europe, worsening the crisis for Greeks. Questions about how to restructure banks may hold up bailout negotiations.[x]












Stocks Rise on Earnings & Greece Weekly Update – July 20, 2015

Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of

Stocks surged in an action-packed week, giving the NASDAQ two record closes in a row. For the week, the S&P 500 gained 2.41%, the Dow rose 1.84%, and the NASDAQ soared 4.25%.1

Investors around the world breathed a sigh of relief when EU negotiators finally reached a deal on Greece after weeks of brinksmanship. However, all is not won yet since the deal must pass several Eurozone parliaments next and Greece must apply for a new International Monetary Fund program.2 But, the European Central Bank approved more emergency relief and Greek banks are due to reopen this week.3 Will this new bailout resolve all of Greece’s issues? Certainly not. In fact, we may see new acts in the Greek drama if a snap general election is called this fall or if the IMF refuses to support the deal.4 However, Europe avoided a painful Greek exit and Greece has stepped back from the brink (for now).

On the U.S. side, earnings season really got going last week; despite some outsized performance from a few companies, earnings have gotten off to a lukewarm start, with early results suggesting that revenues may be weaker than what we saw in the first quarter. However, financials are showing strength and some standouts in the tech sector drove the NASDAQ to new record closes.5 Shares from technology giant Google (GOOGL) skyrocketed on strong earnings, giving the stock the biggest one-day rally in history.6

In other news, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen testified before House and Senate committees last week, reiterating the Fed’s commitment to raising rates later this year. Though Yellen is comfortable with the improvement shown by the labor market, she wants to be cautious about the timing of interest rate hikes to avoid stalling the economic recovery.7

Looking ahead, earnings season will continue heating up this week, giving analysts piles of new reports to digest. Investors will also take a look at more housing data to gauge how the sector looks this quarter. Though summer is often a sleepy time for markets, recent events are keeping traders close to home and we may see more volatility in the coming weeks.


Wednesday: Existing Home Sales, EIA Petroleum Status Report

Thursday: Jobless Claims

Friday: PMI Manufacturing Index Flash, New Home Sales



Jobless claims fall more than expected. After three weeks of increases, the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell. Summer jobs data tends to be volatile, but the drop is a sign of health for the labor market.8

Inflation rises in June. The cost of consumer goods rose for a fifth straight month in June, driven upward by rising gasoline and other costs. This increase supports the Federal Reserve’s plan to raise interest rates this year.9

Housing starts rebound in June. Groundbreaking on new homes increased by 9.8% last month and new permits rose, boosting expectations of a housing market resurgence this year.10

Retail sales decline. U.S. retail sales unexpectedly slipped last month as Americans cut back on major purchases like autos and home goods. Though the decline could be seasonal, it raises worries that the economy might be lagging.11

Why Are Greece and China Worries Fading? Weekly Update – July 13, 2015

Image courtesy of van Oostrom

Image courtesy of van Oostrom

Markets finally broke the losing streak, closing up for the week as worries about Greece and China faded. For the week, the S&P 500 gained 0.88%, the Dow rose 1.11%, and the NASDAQ grew 0.69%.1

Though a deal with Greece wasn’t reached on Sunday, both sides of the debt overhaul debate appear committed to finding a solution. Top-level officials from around Europe met to put together a deal that would be acceptable to creditors as well as Greece’s wary parliament. With Greek banks shut since June 28 and unlikely to reopen without additional funds, damage is already being done to the Greek economy.2  As of Monday morning, an “Agreement” was finally reached between the two sides; now, attention turns to Greek’s parliament, which must ratify the deal.3

China’s stock market, which has been experiencing a bear market correction, stabilized last week. Is the free-fall over? Hard to say, but we’re not worried. China’s stock market and investing culture is immature, and the recent 30% drop in the Shanghai Composite Index came after a run-up of 150%.4 Many analysts felt that Chinese markets were frothy and overpriced, so the correction isn’t unexpected. However, the stock meltdown does lower the expectation that China’s economy will reignite global growth.5

On the domestic side, the largest stock exchange in the U.S. experienced an outage last week that caused some to worry about the effects of software on markets. The technical fault that caused the New York Stock Exchange to halt trading for four hours on Wednesday gave investors pause but didn’t result in too much disruption to U.S. equity markets because orders were routed through other exchanges. While rumors of a malicious attack flourished, NYSE officials claimed a software glitch was to blame.6

In today’s software-reliant world, technical faults can and do happen. While other institutional traders who measure positions in microseconds can suffer serious losses when orders don’t go through in time, long-term investors aren’t usually affected by small glitches. Why? When you’re investing for long-term time horizons, the timing of individual trades doesn’t matter as much, and little ripples in the market generally won’t affect your long-term financial picture.

In the week ahead, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen will be speaking about monetary policy to the House and Senate. Remarks that Yellen made on Friday suggest that she will probably reiterate the Fed’s intention to raise rates later this year as long as economic activity continues apace.7 Earnings season will ramp up with many banks reporting this week as well. We’ll have more for you on earnings next week.


 Monday: Treasury Budget

Tuesday: Retail Sales, Business Inventories

Wednesday: PPI-FD, Empire State Mfg. Survey, Industrial Production, Janet Yellen Speaks 10:00 AM ET, EIA Petroleum Status Report, Beige Book

Thursday: Jobless Claims, Philadelphia Fed Business Outlook Survey, Housing Market Index, Janet Yellen Speaks 10:00 AM ET

Friday: Consumer Price Index, Housing Starts, Consumer Sentiment



Jobless claims rise to highest level since February. The number of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits rose last week, though underlying trends remain stable. Seasonal factors may be to blame.8

Job openings soar. The number of available jobs rose again in May, showing that the economy had 5.4 million jobs to offer. Despite the increase, hiring remained flat, indicating that employers may be having trouble finding jobseekers with the right skills.9

Fed meeting minutes shows split. Meeting minutes from the June Federal Open Market Committee meeting show that economists were split, with some ready to vote for a rate increase. However, uncertainty around global risks won out, and officials chose to wait for more information.10

Consumer confidence rises more than expected in June. A gauge of how optimistic Americans feel about their economic prospects soared last month, stoking hopes that spending may boost economic growth.11

International Monetary Fund trims global growth expectations. Citing weaker-than-expected economic activity, weak inflation, and other factors, the IMF lowered its global growth projection to 3.3% from 3.5%.12

Hixon Zuercher July 2015 Monthly Market Update

Quarterly Update: Markets Lose Ground on Greek Default Weekly Update – July 6, 2015

Image provided by

Image provided by

Markets lost ground again last week after Greece technically defaulted on loan payments and edged closer to an exit from the Euro. For the week, the S&P 500 dropped 1.29%, the Dow lost 1.24%, and the NASDAQ fell 1.92%.

What contributed to market performance last quarter?

Ongoing issues in Greece occupied a lot of headlines last quarter. Greece, which has struggled with debt and recession for years, has been in a standoff with its European creditors for weeks with no resolution in sight. U.S. investors responded to the turmoil with nervousness, worried about the possibility of financial contagion spreading from Europe to the U.S. Though Greece has technically defaulted on its debt obligations, we believe that financial markets are prepared for additional Greek drama and reactions will hopefully be short-lived.

Continued improvement in the labor market was a source of more positive investor sentiment last quarter. The June jobs report showed that the unemployment rate declined again to 5.3% and that the economy added 223,000 new jobs last month, bringing the total number of jobs created in the first half of the year to just over 1 million.

While the labor market is clearly making strides, it’s becoming clear that this is not your father’s recovery. Many available jobs are part-time only, wages are sluggish, and the workforce is smaller than it used to be, partly because of the vast numbers of Boomers heading into retirement.

On the positive side, the tepid report probably doesn’t give Fed chair Janet Yellen the “decisive evidence” of a jobs recovery she says she wants to see before raising interest rates this year. The Fed spent most of the first half of 2015 emphasizing that it’s going to eventually have to raise interest rates to fight off inflation. Fortunately, Fed statements have repeatedly stressed the central bank’s intention to take a slow, cautious approach to rate hikes. Will we see a rate increase this year? Possibly. Most Wall Street experts seem to think that a September hike is in store.

What can we expect in the weeks ahead?

Greece will be on investors’ minds in the coming weeks as European leaders seek a resolution to the debt-ridden country’s financial crisis. However, some analysts don’t believe that a default will necessarily lead to an exit from the Euro. However the situation is resolved, we don’t expect U.S. financial markets to experience more than a short-term pullback; in fact, stocks might head higher due to a ‘flight to quality’ effect as investors seek alternatives outside of Europe.

Investors will also be eagerly waiting for the first estimate of last quarter’s economic growth. After the dismal first quarter, in which economic growth ground to a halt, investors have pinned their hopes on a second quarter resurgence. Estimates of Q2 Gross Domestic Product growth are ranging between 2.0%-3.3%, showing that there are a lot of opinions out there on how the economy is doing.

What will earnings season bring?

By the trickle of earnings that we’ve seen so far, we can see that investors are being very unforgiving of low performers. Their attitude makes sense in light of how high markets have been running. Going forward, we want you to keep a couple of things in mind:

Could we see a pullback in the days and weeks ahead? Possibly. Is it the end of the world? Absolutely not. While it’s impossible to predict how markets are going to react to earnings season, Greece, or any other potential headwind, we want to emphasize that market corrections are a natural and expected phenomenon in today’s world; while it’s stressful to watch portfolio values fluctuate, pullbacks offer a good opportunity to review strategies and think about your personal goals. We also specialize in creating strategies that help mitigate volatility and work to take advantage of market movements.


 Monday: ISM Non-Mfg. Index

Tuesday: International Trade, JOLTS

Wednesday: EIA Petroleum Status Report, FOMC Minutes

Thursday: Jobless Claims

Friday: Janet Yellen Speaks 12:00 PM ET




Greeks vote “No” on bailout. Greek voters rejected the historic bailout referendum, refusing to given in to pressure to accept further austerity cuts. The result paves the way for negotiators to try and get a better deal from European creditors.

[x] China slips into bear market. The Shanghai Composite Index closed over 20% lower than its June 12 high, officially putting Chinese stocks in a bear market. Some analysts believe that China’s correction is unremarkable given the country’s economic struggles.

 Pending home sales reach multi-year high. The number of houses under contract rose to the highest level in over nine years in May, indicating that homebuyers may be taking advantage of a reprieve on higher interest rates.

 Consumer confidence rises more than expected in June. A gauge of how optimistic Americans feel about their economic prospects soared last month, stoking hopes that spending may boost economic growth.

The Stakes Have Gotten Higher for Greece Weekly Update – June 29, 2015

Image courtesy of Miles

Image courtesy of Miles

Markets lost ground last week, giving in to nerves about Greece and some early second-quarter earnings reports. For the week, the S&P 500 dropped 0.40%, the Dow fell 0.37%, and the NASDAQ lost 0.71%.

Crumbling Greek debt talks were in focus again last week as the deadline toward the June 30 expiration of Athens’ bailout program edges closer. Though Greek leaders asked for a one-month extension of the bailout, creditors rejected the request, pushing the stakes much higher for Greeks.

The threat of a liquidity crisis – inevitable if Greece is ejected from the Eurozone – sent Greeks scrambling to withdraw funds from bank accounts. Sources say that over one-third of ATMs in the country ran out of cash. Though Greek banks are dealing with record withdrawals, the European Central Bank announced Sunday that it will cap emergency support for banks at current levels, leaving their cash reserves seriously depleted. If Greek leaders lock down access to accounts, ordinary Greeks could suddenly find the euros in their accounts converted to another currency if Greece exits, seriously complicating their ability to buy goods and services until the financial system recovers.

While a crisis is already underway in Greece, it’s very unlikely that serious issues will make their way to U.S. shores. Why? As the chief economist of First Trust puts it, “Greece is Detroit, Not Lehman.” In terms of international impact, a Greek default will look more like Detroit’s bankruptcy than the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008. Lehman Brothers played a significant role in financial markets and its sudden collapse shocked the world, helping to trigger the financial crisis.

In contrast, Greece’s contribution to the world economy is miniscule, and the country’s financial problems have been going on for years. While there is no way to know for sure how a Greek exit will affect financial markets, we believe that markets and economies worldwide are already prepared for the eventuality. Though we may see short-term volatility and a possible market retreat, we believe that many fears are overblown.

Looking ahead, Thursday’s June jobs report will be the highlight of the Independence Day shortened week. Investors will be weighing the latest job market data to predict how soon the Fed may raise rates. Markets will also be looking toward Greece as the bailout deal nears expiration on Wednesday.


 Monday: Pending Home Sales Index, Dallas Fed Mfg. Survey

Tuesday: S&P Case-Shiller HPI, Chicago PMI, Consumer Confidence

Wednesday: Motor Vehicle Sales, ADP Employment Report, PMI Manufacturing Index,

ISM Mfg. Index, Construction Spending, EIA Petroleum Status Report

Thursday: Employment Situation, Jobless Claims, Factory Orders

Friday: U.S. Markets Closed For Independence Day Holiday



U.S. economy contracted in Q1. The latest government data shows that Real Gross Domestic Product growth, the leading indicator of U.S. economic activity, contracted by 0.2% in the first quarter of 2015.

Consumer spending surges in May. Spending by American consumers recorded its biggest gain in nearly six years. Consumer spending rose 0.9% on strong demand for big-ticket items like automobiles.

China lowers interest rates again. In an effort to boost their sluggish economy, Chinese central bankers lowered interest rates for the fourth time and eased lending rules for small businesses.

Factory growth drops. Growth in manufacturing activity in U.S. factories slipped in June for the third month in a row, dropping to the lowest level since October 2013. The data could suggest that the economy didn’t rebound as much as expected in the second quarter.

What Did the Fed Announce on Wednesday? Weekly Update – June 22, 2015

Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of

Last week, markets shrugged off concerns about deadlocked Greek negotiations and rallied on strong economic data, sending the NASDAQ to a new historic high. For the week, the S&P 500 grew 0.76%, the Dow rose 0.64%, and the NASDAQ gained 1.30%.[i]

The Federal Reserve wrapped up its June meeting on Wednesday surprising no one with the announcement that the central bank will keep rates at zero percent for a while longer. Though the Fed appears to be confident that the economy is growing modestly, officials prefer to maintain the status quo until they’re more certain that rate hikes won’t harm the recovery.[ii]

We don’t yet know when the Fed will begin raising interest rates, but a number of respondents to a recent survey are betting on a third-quarter rate hike.[iii] Are rate expectations already baked into stock and bond markets? It’s hard to know for certain, but the Fed has been doing a good job of laying the groundwork for future rate moves, so we can hope that markets won’t overreact when rates start to go up.

Negotiations between Greece and its European lenders broke down again Thursday, weighing on European stocks. Greece is trying to negotiate a new round of credit from European lenders that would allow it to make scheduled debt repayments by the end of June. Negotiators have not been able to reach a deal that would satisfy creditors’ need for budget cuts and pension reform. Though Thursday’s meeting was billed as a last-chance effort to break the deadlock, some time remains before Greece formally falls into default.[iv] How will the game of chicken end? We don’t know.

Looking ahead, European and Greek leaders will hold an emergency summit on Monday to attempt to resolve the bailout gridlock. Panicked about what would happen if Greece defaults on its debt payments and leaves the Eurozone, depositors have been withdrawing cash from Greek banks, leaving some insiders speculating that Greek banks may not be able to reopen next week. If negotiators are unable to reach a compromise before the end of the month, we can expect the breakdown to cause markets to turn volatile. We’ll keep you updated as necessary.


 Monday: Existing Home Sales

Tuesday: Durable Goods Orders, PMI Manufacturing Index Flash, New Home Sales

Wednesday: GDP, EIA Petroleum Status Report

Thursday: Jobless Claims, Personal Income and Outlays

Friday: Consumer Sentiment



Housing starts fall in May. Groundbreaking on new houses fell last month, but a surge in permits for new construction suggests that the pause may be temporary and that the housing sector will see strong growth this season.[v]

Jobless claims fall more than expected. The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell more than expected, remaining below the key 300,000 level for the 15th week in a row.[vi]

Inflation sees biggest gain in two years. Consumer prices jumped in May by the largest amount since 2013. The data indicates that price drops relating to gasoline savings may be over and that inflation is returning to trend.[vii]

Apartment rentals reach historic high. Occupancy rates in apartments reached 95.3% in May, the highest level on record, as Americans of all ages move into rental housing in droves.[viii]










The Greece Problem Explained – Weekly Update – June 15, 2015

Image Courtesy of

Image Courtesy of

Markets ended last week mixed, falling on Friday as concerns about the debt impasse in Greece outweighed upbeat domestic data. For the week, the S&P 500 gained 0.06%, the Dow grew 0.28%, and the NASDAQ fell 0.34%.

So, what’s going on in Greece? For weeks, Greek leaders have been deadlocked in negotiations with creditors over the latest round of debt relief for the troubled country. Greece can’t pay its bills and is locked out of traditional credit markets because of its bad economic state. To keep the lights on and the country running, Greece has been relying on financial support from the Eurozone and International Monetary Fund since 2010. In exchange for the financial support, creditors instituted a set of austerity reforms and budget cuts designed to get Greece on sounder financial footing.

These cuts have been widely hated by Greeks, and a new government was elected in January that promised to tear up the credit agreements and end austerity measures. Since then, creditors have refused to lend Greece more money until they agree to reinstate reforms.

Why won’t Greece give in to the creditors’ demands?

Greece refuses to reinstate austerity measures because they are blamed for shrinking the economy by 21% and driving unemployment to 25% (50% among young workers). The current government would violate campaign promises if it agreed to proposed cuts to the pension system or raised taxes. Greek negotiators have asked for forgiveness of a big slice of previous loans, additional credit that’s not tied to austerity measures, as well as access to other sources of funds. Will they get all these things? Probably not.

Why won’t Greece’s creditors end the call for austerity measures?

Currently, Greece owes nearly twice its annual economic production in debt. Creditors want to institute spending cuts and tax increases to reduce its debts. Though they might be willing to restructure Greece’s debts in future negotiations, they don’t want to embolden populists in other countries by caving to Greek demands. They are taking a hard line in negotiations because they believe that the Eurozone is in better shape to handle a Greek default.

What will happen if talks fail?

It’s hard to know for certain how this game of chicken will play out. If negotiators fail to come to an agreement by the end of the month, the credit deal will expire and Greece will default on its debts (though it may use some extension provisions to avoid a formal default).

The risk that everyone’s worried about is that of a Greek exit from the Eurozone, or “Grexit.” Since the European Union’s inception, no country has left the currency or political union. The current situation will help define the future of the EU. Economists and EU leaders are worried about questions like:

• Can the EU survive the exit of a member country?
• Would Greece abandon the Euro but remain in the EU?
• Would a Grexit open the door for other countries to leave?

For U.S. investors, problems in Europe would be felt in U.S. exports (since Europe is a major trading partner), international exposure in portfolios, and as another factor in global economic growth. Right now, the U.S. economy appears to be doing well, so it’s unlikely that economic contagion would spread. Though financial markets would likely react badly to a Grexit, we can hope that positive domestic fundamentals would bring investor sentiment back. Though we can’t predict market movements, we’re watching the situation closely and will let you know if we feel any prudent adjustments need to be made.

This week, investors will be closely watching the Federal Open Market Committee meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday for clues about the Fed’s next steps. Realistically, Wednesday’s announcement will probably reiterate the Fed’s wait-and-see approach to the economy. We’ll keep you updated.


Monday: Empire State Mfg. Survey, Industrial Production, Housing Market Index
Tuesday: Housing Starts
Wednesday: EIA Petroleum Status Report, FOMC Meeting Announcement, FOMC Forecasts, Fed Chair Press Conference 2:30pm ET
Thursday: Consumer Price Index, Jobless Claims, Philadelphia Fed Business Outlook Survey



Oil prices drop as Saudis get ready to produce. International oil prices fell again Friday on supply worries after major oil producer Saudi Arabia announced a potential deal to increase supplies to India. Higher global oil inventory could reignite worries of a supply glut.

Consumer sentiment jumps in June. A strengthening job market spurred American confidence in the economy, driving up a measure of consumer sentiment. This data suggests that the stage is set for stronger growth this quarter.

Job openings hit 14-year high in April. The number of open positions climbed by the most since 2000, indicating that the labor market continues to gain ground.

Retail sales jump in May. In another positive sign for the economy, retail sales surged by 1.2% in May as Americans increased their purchases of automobiles, furniture, and other big-ticket items.


Hixon Zuercher June 2015 Monthly Market Update

5 Things We Learned From The May Jobs Report Weekly Update – June 8, 2015

Image courtesy of

Image courtesy of

Markets ended lower last week as investors balanced an optimistic jobs report against renewed concerns about a Greek debt default. For the week, the S&P 500 lost 0.69%, the Dow fell 0.90%, and the NASDAQ slid 0.03%.[i]

On Friday, we got a look at how the labor market did in May. After jobs growth stuttered in the first quarter, investors were looking for reassurance that the economy can still support hiring. Here are three good things and two not-so-good things that we learned:

  1. The economy created 280,000 new jobs in May, beating expectations and leaving economists feeling optimistic about growth this quarter.[ii]
  1. The unemployment rate ticked upward to 5.5%, but that’s mostly a result of an increase in the number of people looking for jobs. A higher labor force participation rate is a good sign because it means people are feeling confident enough in job opportunities to go looking, so we’ll count this one as a positive.[iii]
  1. Lagging wage growth, which has concerned economists, appears to be reversing with U.S. workers adding $0.08/hour to their paychecks last month. Wage growth over the last three months is much closer to the 3.0% we’ve seen in past economic recoveries.[iv] Since economic growth depends heavily on consumer spending, we can hope that bigger paychecks will translate into a greater willingness to spend.
  1. In the not-so-great category, we learned that the majority of the new jobs created were in low-paying industries like retail, hospitality, temp work, home health services, etc.[v] Though we’re seeing an uptick in full-time work, many Americans are still struggling to find good-paying jobs, which may limit their ability to qualify for a mortgage and make big-ticket purchases.
  1. Productivity, measured in output per worker hour, registered a dismal 0.3% increase last month. Productivity is a major factor in long-term economic growth, and low labor productivity could be a warning sign. Is it cause for worry?

Probably not. Productivity is often tied to wages – higher wages have been seen to boost worker productivity – so we can hope that wage increases will boost output. There are also some economists who argue that the way productivity is estimated doesn’t account for technological improvements and shifts in the ways Americans work today.[vi]

Looking ahead, investors will be watching Greek debt negotiations closely to see whether creditors will bow to hardline Greek demands for loans without austerity measures, or whether they will allow debt-laden Greece to slide into default. We’ll also get a look at the latest retail sales and business inventories data, which will show us how consumers and businesses are spending this quarter.



 Tuesday: JOLTS

Wednesday: EIA Petroleum Status Report, Treasury Budget

Thursday: Jobless Claims, Retail Sales, Import and Export Prices, Business Inventories

Friday: PPI-FD, Consumer Sentiment



Greece delays debt payment to International Monetary Fund. Greece postponed a payment due Friday until the end of June. A government leader declared that Greece might hold snap elections to choose a new government.[vii]

American Pharoah wins Triple Crown at Belmont Stakes. The horse previously won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness races, bringing home the elusive Triple Crown for the first time since 1978.[viii]

 Oil settles up on lower rig count. Oil prices jumped Friday, sending domestic prices close to $60/barrel when an industry report showed that the number of U.S. drilling rigs fell for the 26th week in a row.[ix]

Mortgage rates remain high. Interest rates on 30-year fixed mortgages remained at 3.87% for the second week in a row, reaching the highest level since late 2014. High rates may curb housing market activity this season.[x]